A combination of warmer growing seasons, relatively low land costs and diligent wine-making has seen a resurgence in interest in Beaujolais. Happily, prices remain reasonable so it is a buyers market at the moment. The best and most age-worthy wines hail from the granitic soils of the hill country to the north of the appéllation where the named crus run in sequence from Brouilly in the south to Saint-Amour at the northern extremity.
Based in the commune of Villié-Morgon, Arnaud Aucoeur is an eleventh generation wine-maker with a strong sense of terroir and an innate belief in the region's potential to produce wines of quality and character. His principal wine is terms of volume is his Beaujolais Villages 'Vieilles Vignes' made from pure Gamay which is vinified in 50 hectolitre wooden vats. With a wealth of summer berry scents and flavours, peppery undertones and supple tannins, it drinks well from release and makes a fine foil for charcuterie and grilled goat's cheese salads. His Morgon - from the celebrated 'Côte de Py' vineyard - is deeper, darker and more complex with more tannic grip and ageing potential. It pairs well with small game and poultry and can be cellared for 5-10 years. Arnaud also bottles a relatively rare white Beaujolais: a pure old-vine Chardonnay with a ripe apple bouquet and racy orchard fruit palate with a crisp, clean finish.
Back in 2013, the Graillot family – of Crozes-Hermitage renown – astutely acquired 7 hectares of vine-holdings in the north of Beaujolais from which they produce three different bottlings of Gamay under their 'Domaine de Fa' label. All are farmed organically and biodynamically, and will be certified as organic from the 2019 vintage. Their Beaujolais-en-Besset is redolent of ripe mulberries and damsons with a pure red fruit core and delicate earthy undertones. It has enough weight to support a spot of bottle age but is hard to resist in its youthful pomp. A violet-scented Fleurie (which accounts for more than half of production) has much the same fruit forward appeal but is more structured with firmer tannins and fresh acidity. Completing the range is an elegant Saint-Amour that has a bouquet of forest fruit and a sensuous palate of dark cherries and berries offset by fine-grained tannins that will sweeten and soften with up to 5 years in the cellar.